The Pakistan Super League (PSL) to be entirely held in Pakistan has begun with everyone hoping for an event with no untoward incidents. Top class security arrangements have been made at the four venues that will stage the matches.
Pakistan Prime Minister and former Pakistan team captain Imran Khan had urged the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials to host the PSL entirely in Pakistan and prove that his country is safe and secure for cricket.
Khan has personally issued directives to all police chiefs and chief commissioners to provide special security for all foreign players. He has even granted state guest status to all foreign players.
Javed Afridi, the owner of the Peshawar Zalmi team, speaking to reporters at the Karachi stadium, said: “I want all of you to pray that this month-long event is held without any untoward incident.”
Najam Sethi, the former PCB Chairman, who visualised this league in 2016, also remarked: “I pray that the tournament goes off without a mishap and will go on to showcase Pakistan and bring joy to all Pakistanis.”
Wasim Khan, the PCB chief executive is delighted at many foreign players readily coming to play the tournament in Pakistan “Foreign players coming is a huge bonus for us. We’re delighted there are so many players here and it’s a great endorsement for us as a country.”
An incident free PSL will be a feather on Imran’s cap and hence all government agencies are focused on it. Road closures, usually reserved for only visiting heads of states, have been made for the teams to travel securely to all venues.
Legendary pacer Wasim Akram believes that PSL’s popularity will shoot up with the event being held entirely in Pakistan. “People rate Big Bash and PSL after the Indian Premier League, and with all PSL matches now happening in Pakistan, the status of PSL will improve further. I am hoping for a full house in every match.”
Misbah-ul-Haq, who is the coach and chief selector of the Pakistan team as well as the Islamabad United team in the PSL, feels that the event being held in totally in Pakistan is a big boost for youngsters. “The PSL in Pakistan has brought joy to everyone. When a player breaks a record in front of their home crowds the feeling is completely different. The return of international cricket to Pakistan will be great for the popularity of cricket among youngsters.”
While this edition will throw up many talented youngsters, some of the out of form cricketers will use this tournament to win back their place in the Pakistan squad.
Team owners revealed that they have got the right players to produce a good show. Salman Iqbal, the owner of the Karachi Kings team, said: “Our philosophy was very clear that we have to retain core nucleus of the team with the players who we want to be with us in the long-term, while building a strong bench around them with strategic picks for critical positions. I am very happy with the squad which we have been able to assemble.”
Two time champions Islamabad United team owner Ali Naqvi said: “We are very happy with the team we have built for this season. Looking at the final squad, we feel very confident about another successful season.”
Lahore Qalandars’s CEO Atif Rana feels his team has a very good combination. “Our squad is a great mix of utility foreign players along with experienced as well as exciting young players from Pakistan. Composition-wise we have covered all the bases.”
Alamgir Khan Tareen, co-owner of Multan Sultans said his team has got good depth while Peshawar Zalmi’s owner Javed Afridi revealed that his team has picked the right players during the draft. Defending champions Quetta Gladiators owner Nadeem Omar feels his team is filled with specialists and hence is a balanced squad.